Throughout the pandemic thousands of employees quit their jobs and started their own businesses (entrepreneurs). At the same time thousands of businesses and organizations of all types were having to adjust their business practices to accommodate change, and seeking employees to help lead that change (intrapreneurs).

For these reasons and more, the University of South Carolina Beaufort developed a new course called Entrepreneurial Thinking and Innovation.

At the beginning of the semester the students develop a theoretical model of a new business venture that interests them. Next, they take several assessments to determine their competitive strengths (CliftonStrengths: see, and comparative skills and personalities (Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile: see Throughout the semester they make changes to their business models as they learn ways to collaborate, think creatively, assess information, solve problems, and innovate. Along the way the students are encouraged to be disruptive, and to fail. Wait, what?

Disruption is confusion, obstruction, turmoil, chaos. Why would students be encouraged to disrupt? Because there are two sides to every coin. Disruption is also creation, imagination, innovation, transformation. They say the only constant is change, and change can be very disruptive in a business environment. Yet for those who prepare for it, embrace it – in fact, initiate it – change can be very rewarding. We inspire our students to be curious, step out of line, and explore ways to positively disrupt their chosen business models and associated industries.

Failure is also not usually a word we typically want to be associated with, yet failure, too, has its positive sides. We gain much wisdom from our failures. Failure helps us to grow as individuals and leaders. It is by definition inherent in the risks we take, yet without risk there is no innovation.

In this class, we ask the students not to follow the crowd but rather to let their minds wander, use their imagination, and think differently. Discover new ways to look at something old, then act on it. As an unknown author once said, “Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.”

We are all students in a dynamic world. Welcome change, don’t fear a few failures along the way and – from time to time – create a little disruption in a positive way!

Tom Henz is an adjunct professor at USCB, as well as director and facilitator of the school’s Center for Strategic Planning.